I just took our two oldest boys to the Pleasanton BMX Park, and boy was it fun! I am an avid mountain biker and occasionally have been able to coerce our 8- and 10-year olds to join me for a few miles through Tilden Park. Unfortunately, about half that time involves them complaining that a hill is too hard to climb or too scary to descend. Some of my mountain biking friends who had taken their 4-5 year olds had recommended the Pleasanton course to me, so I decided to give it a try.
I had never been to a BMX Park (or “Pump Track” as they are sometimes called) and didn't really know what to expect. What would we be able to do? Who would be there? Since my kids had rolled up and down some hills before, I figured that at least the terrain would be familiar.
What to expect at the Pleasanton BMX Park:
The whole park is probably less than an acre, and is entirely composed of dirt mounds and berms to ride around on. This is sort of the BMX/Mountain Bike equivalent of a skate park. There is a pre-made track on one side, where your kids (and you!) can zig zag back and forth, going up and down “tabletops” and around “berms.” The other side is more aggressive, and without any set track. It has lots of features of all shapes and sizes.
The course can be a little intimidating at first, but once your kid gets the hang of it, they're not going to want to leave. We were especially impressed by the *two* different families with 2 1/2 year old kids rolling up and down the mounds on their balance bikes!
We arrived around 9:00 on a Sunday morning to avoid any crowds of unruly teenagers. There were a few families there already with kids from 2 1/2 to about 12, a pair of teenagers, and a few grown-ups riding solo. But everyone old and young (including the teenagers!) were really friendly and encouraging. Parents don't have to ride either: A few families' parents were just cheering the kids on from the side.
I was surprised to see most kids wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts, even though it was already pretty warm, but I soon learned why. At one point Milo went over his handlebars on a tricky set of “rollers” and got kind of scratched up on his elbows and knees – and his wounds were instantly coated in dirt. Ouch! Fortunately a nice family helped me clean him up and gave us some band-aids… and then encouraged him to “get back out there!”
- Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts and expect to get dirty!
- Bring a bandaids and ointment just in case, but a wet washcloth borrowed from another family proved to be invaluable for cleaning the dusty dirt.
- Helmets, of course.
- Kids need elbow and knee pads only if they're really aggressive: my kids were fine without them, even with some scrapes.
The Pleasanton BMX Park is a public park, and really easy to visit. It is open sunrise to sunset and there is no admission fee; just drive into the parking lot at 3320 Stanley Blvd, Pleasanton, CA 94566 and start riding.